Weekender

Traveling husband-wife duo stop in Lemont

Ruth Ungar Merenda and Michael J. Merenda Jr. will perform on Saturday at the Acoustic Brew Concerts series.
Ruth Ungar Merenda and Michael J. Merenda Jr. will perform on Saturday at the Acoustic Brew Concerts series. Photo provided

Husband-wife singer/songwriting duo Mike + Ruthy will play the Center for Well-Being in Lemont on Saturday as part of the Acoustic Brew Concerts series.

Michael J. Merenda Jr. and Ruth Ungar Merenda, hailing from New York’s Hudson Valley, each play multiple instruments to complement their folk rock vocal style. The two united and formed a band nearly two decades ago in New York City.

“We formed our first band in NYC in 1999. It was a trio called Rhinegold,” Ruthy said. “Then we moved up to western Massachusetts and met Tao Rodriguez-Seeger and formed a band called ‘The Mammals’ that became a huge part of our lives for the next seven years. When that band went into hibernation we kept going as Mike + Ruthy, either as a duo or with The Mike + Ruthy Band.”

Mike + Ruthy’s music is influenced by societal issues.

“We sing about what’s going on in our lives and the lives of our friends and neighbors; so I hope we convey truth and emotion,” Ruthy said. “Several of our newer songs are political, and some are very celebratory. Some are heartfelt, some are just fun to sing.”

The band’s Americana influenced sound is prevalent throughout their music.

“As Mike + Ruthy, I would say we have an indie-roots sound,” Mike said. “We use traditional American instruments (fiddle, banjo, harmonica, ukelele, guitar) but perform primarily original songs that have a wide range of influence.”

Ruthy said the audience at Acoustic Brew can expect the unexpected.

“This is a duo Mike + Ruthy show, which means some spontaneous off-the-set-list moments and some unexpected true stories,” she said. “But mostly just a good night of songs, backed up by fiddle and guitar or guitar and banjo.”

Fans will be treated to a “less-commercial” type of musical performance at the Center for Well-Being, Ruthy said.

“We tour the country and the world and live the life of travelers,” she said. “But our stopping points are all at places like this — pockets of positive energy where good-hearted people are devoting their time, often for no money, to planting roots, building community and showcasing unusual or less-commercial types of music. I’m proud to be a part of this informal network and to make our living supported by these amazingly devoted presenters.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Acoustic Brew Concerts: Mike + Ruthy
  • When: 7:30 p.m. March 11
  • Where: Center for Well-Being, 123 Mount Nittany Road, Lemont
  • Info: www.acousticbrew.org
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